Jaime Echenique scored 12 of his 14 points in the first half as Wichita State was strong inside and made the most of VCU’s mistakes to beat the visiting Rams 73-63 on Saturday.
Freshman Grant Sherfield also scored 14 for the Shockers (10-1), who could find themselves ranked next week after winning a fourth straight game following their lone defeat to West Virginia at the Cancun Challenge on Nov. 27. Echenique scored nine of the first 13 points for Wichita State, which recorded 36 points in the paint, pulled down 16 offensive rebounds and forced 18 turnovers, which the hosts turned into 15 points despite shooting 42.4 percent overall.
Marcus Evans had 15 points to lead VCU (9-3), which shot just 37.7 percent from the field - 4 of 19 from 3-point range - while seeing its seven-game road winning streak come to an end. Marcus Santos-Silva, who entered the game with a team-leading 13.5 points, played just three minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, finished with seven points for the Rams, who had won three in row prior.
Wichita State benefited from some spirited play by Echenique (six rebounds), who starred early and helped his team lead by as many as 13 points. The Shockers, who used a 7-0 early to put some consistent distance between them and VCU, recorded 12 offensive rebounds and scored 24 points in the paint in the first half.
However, the big difference was Wichita State’s ability to force the Rams into mistakes. The hosts forced 11 first-half VCU turnovers, and owned a whopping 12-0 advantage in points off turnovers through the first 20 minutes to lead 42-30 at the break.
The Shockers scored nine of the first 14 points of the second half. Two 3-pointers from freshman Tyson Etienne (10 points) and another from Erik Stevenson had Wichita State up 51-35 in the early moments of the second half. The hosts’ lead reached as many as 18 for the game before getting careless late and allowing VCU to make a little late noise.
With the victory, Wichita State evened the all-time series with VCU at 3-3. The Shockers have won 13 straight non-conference home games.
Issac Vann had 11 points for the Rams.
—Field Level Media